Bismarck News

Creating a bridge between inmates and the community

We know you want to feel safe in your community, but we have state prisons right in our back yards. The DOCR's vision statement is to help people change for a better community. In order to do that, they created a new position - the community resources manager. 

"There's a lot of guys that really want to make amends, to find ways to give back, pay it forward," said inmate Tim Olson.

That's where Tom Petrik comes into play. The community resources manager's job is to act as the middle man between local community organizations and the prison. 

Petrik said, "We think the more we can create normalcy within their lives by providing new and better programming opportuinties, that's what we're really focusing on,"

Right now, there's toastmasters club, celebrate recovery, and a choir is x also getting set up. These new programs have a goal to not only make the inmates better, but to create a connection that will better serve them and the local community once they leave. 

"It's about looking at going above and beyond the walls. The walls are the barrier that keeps everybody in. But how to we make sure we import people from the community, bring them in. How do we work together? Because 97% of the people that are here are leaving," said Colby Braun, the prison's warden.

Getting the inmates involved in these resources and programs can also reduce repeat offenses.
In addition to that, the inmates want to start raising money to give to local and international charities.

Inmate Antonio Stridiron said, "Our work will hopefully show for itself. And they can see that, you know, some guys need opportunity to get better and they're willing to make that change to do better. Hopefully they will be on board with it."

They're still actively looking for non-profits and different organizations to get involved with the prison.

Petriktells me he wants to create a volunteer advisory council made up of community members to help guide and direct the new programs. You can reach him at

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